Make Behavioral Health a Priority in Your Department

More than 100 firefighters and EMS providers commit suicide each year. A recent article from Forbes highlighted this epidemic in the fire service.

We must all work together to break the stigma surrounding behavioral health and be there for our fellow responders in need. September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and this is a great opportunity to provide behavioral health training in your department and remind members that help is available.

The National Volunteer Fire Council’s Share the Load program provides tools and resources to help departments and responders proactively address behavioral health and prevent firefighter suicides. These include the following:

  • The Fire/EMS Helpline at 1-888-731-FIRE (3473) is available 24/7 and provides free, confidential support to firefighters, EMS providers, and their family members struggling with any behavioral health issue. Run by American Addiction Centers, the Helpline was created by firefighters and is specifically designed to meet the unique needs of fire service personnel and their families.
  • A video infographic provides tips for how to talk to a responder in need.
  • Posters and ads promoting the Fire/EMS Helpline can be hung up at the station and placed in department newsletters to let personnel know they are not alone and help is available if they need it.
  • The Helpletter features articles from subject matter experts and fire service veterans who provide tips, tools, and resources to help first responders take a proactive approach in addressing many behavioral health issues.
  • Behavioral health and suicide prevention courses are available in the NVFC Virtual Classroom and can be used to train department personnel on these critical topics.

Many firefighters and emergency services providers struggle with PTSD, depression, addiction, and more. Read the firsthand accounts of Chief Jared Meeker and firefighter Scott Geiselhart, who both sought help through the Fire/EMS Helpline.

Find more resources to make behavioral health a priority in your department through the Share the Load program at www.nvfc.org/help.